Are you ‘avin a Laff(er Curve)?

Have you ever heard the “conventional wisdom” espoused by Republican politicians that slashing taxes actually brings the government more money? This little nugget has been trotted out by everyone from George Bush to Dick Cheney to Rudy Giuliani. I recently found out that this beauty is based on an economic theory known as “Laffer’s Curve” (after economist, George Laffer, who came up with it). The theory is that when taxation reaches a certain point people will go to such extraordinary lengths to avoid paying that revenues will actually decrease. Economists across the board generally agree with this, in theory. But here’s the rub. Economists across the board also agree that current levels of taxation in the US aren’t even close to being above the curve and unless you are above the curve when you cut taxes you don’t get that revenue surge.

Virtually every economics Ph.D who worked in the Bush administration agrees that the Bush-era tax cuts have not paid for themselves. In 2007 when Bush claimed yet again that it’s “a fact that our tax cuts have fueled robust economic growth and record revenues” , Andrew Samwick, one of his previous chief economists, responded with a plea to the Bush administration to stop making that claim. He wrote in the Wall Street Journal “You are smart people…….You know that the tax cuts have not fueled record revenues. You know that the first order effect of cutting taxes is to lower tax revenues.”

So there you have it. Next time you hear someone make the egregious claim that cutting taxes increases revenue, politely inform them that they are talking through their arse.


Posted in Worldview | 1 Comment

Oldskool vs. Nuskool?

Seeing as how I intend to write about music both new & old on this blog, I figured I would start out with a topic that I’ve thought a lot about over the years. How many times have you heard people say “the music was better back in the day” or “tunes aren’t what they used to be”? I, personally, have both heard and thought that many times over the years. But is it really true? I would say Yes and No based on a couple of factors.

I think the main factor is what one interprets as “better”. Having been in love with electronic music for 20+ years, I have a real passion for the music of 1988-1993. When I listen to certain tunes from that era I still get a tingle that I rarely get with most contemporary music. Why would that be? Was the music really better back then? I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the tingle factor is about nostalgia related to particular tunes rather than the tunes themselves. Listening to favorites from that era evokes memories of hearing this completely new sound and the excitement associated with it. The imprint of a new experience is retriggered along with the memories connected to it. For example, I can remember vividly the first time I heard Mr. Kirk’s Nightmare by 4 Hero on a pirate radio tape my friend brought from London…….and that was 20 years ago. As the years have gone by I have heard thousands of records in a similar vein so they don’t resonate with me in the same way. By the same token, current tunes that I don’t give a second thought to may be just as new & exciting to someone today as Mr. Kirk’s Nightmare was to me 20 years ago. And, most likely, 10 years from now that person will be complaining that the music was better back in 2010.

Having said all that, I do have some thoughts on the actual quality of the music being produced in the 88-93 era and particularly the UK Hardcore of 91-93. Nostalgia aside, this was a very interesting time in electronic music history. As the music was so new the “rules” hadn’t really been written yet. There was a real “anything goes” attitude with regard to what was permissible in the production of a tune. I put this down to the fact that it hadn’t quite become an “industry” as such yet. The DIY mentality was still strong in everything from pressing up & selling 500 white labels of your tune to pirate radio promoting the tune and advertising the raves where the tune was played. Just the fact that many artists back then were making music for the thrill of it rather than for any career aspirations encouraged experimentation and risk-taking. Paying the rent wasn’t dependent on selling the tune. The main objective was to sound different to your peers, not the same. There wasn’t the same concern about A-list DJs playing a tune and thereby creating a market for it so there was less tailoring of tunes to that end. Also, as the music was still in its infancy, inspiration had to be taken from other sources and musical genres which, in turn, made the tunes more stylistically varied. Of course, the fact that production equipment was a lot more expensive back then meant that there weren’t as many people making tunes. Nowadays, with the easy accesibility of music software there is a deluge of music, which in my opinion, isn’t necessarily a good thing. But that’s a topic for another post………

This tune was released on a 12″ in 1993 and, in my mind, is a perfect example of the experimental mindset of artists of that era. Remember, this track would have been made without the assistance of music software and I can only imagine how long it took to make. Pure genius.

Posted in Music, Nuskool, Oldskool | 4 Comments